Investing in Future Designers

We believe in the transformative power of community. In all that we do, we strive to make vibrant communities possible. One of the ways we strive to make strong communities is through our shadow program for K-12 students.

Throughout the program, we educate students on design principles while showing them what day-to-day life in the industry looks like. Our goal is to educate students on the future career possibilities within our industry and inspire students through design.  

Earlier this month we had a shadow student from Jenks Public Schools visit with our staff about the interior design process. As a Senior in High School Abby is contemplating pursuing a career in interior design once she graduates. 

Abby shadowed our staff for two months, following our interiors department around. She sat through meetings, learned how to navigate a construction set, and even attended site walk-throughs. 

One of the amazing parts of this program is how the students shape us. They remind us how passionate, curious, and eager the younger generations are to learn and inspire us to keep fueling the flame ourselves.

We’re always eager to share our industry expertise with more students like Abby. Please reach out to us through the contact page if you or someone you know would be interested in shadowing our office.


Four Projects Win Architecture Design Awards

TULSA, Okla. — This past Friday KSQ Design was awarded three People’s Choice Awards and one Merit Award at the annual AIA Eastern Oklahoma Design & Honor Awards Party. KSQ’s client submissions won the most People’s Choice Awards of any other architecture firm.

The Foundry at Colorado State University,  North Dining Hall at Oklahoma State University, and The Jane Residence received People’s Choice Awards in the Interior Design, Higher Education, and Residential Architecture categories. 

Meanwhile, The Village Center at the University of Colorado Boulder won the Merit Award in the Higher Education for KSQ Design. The Merit Award recognizes projects that clearly demonstrate a level of design that exemplifies superior achievements.

The annual awards banquet recognizes firms within the region that exhibit design excellence in specific categories. The categories for 2021 included: Adaptive Reuse, Commercial Architecture, Large Commercial Architecture, Interior Architecture, Residential Architecture, Healthcare Architecture, Higher Education Architecture, and Excellence in Craft.



“Turning Dirt” for ORU’s New Library and Research Center

TULSA, Okla. — Oral Roberts University broke ground on its new library and Holy Spirit Research Center Wednesday, October 20th. 

Named after ORU alum and long-time donor, J.D. McKean, the library will provide students with world-class access to knowledge and resources around the globe. Features of the library include multi-media stations, study spaces, classroom areas, book collections, archives, and an expansive digital database. 

It’s an exciting time for one of Tulsa’s Higher Education institutions, as the library is the second project in a series of four new buildings on campus. Click here to find out more about this project and what is to come.


Yorktown High School Celebrates New Collegiate-Level Gymnasium

NEW YORK, NY —Yorktown High School in Yorktown Heights New York hosted an opening ceremony this past Friday to celebrate its new gymnasium. After years of excellence, the school now has an athletic space as impressive as the athletes who compete there.

KSQ Design performed a complete renovation of the building. The renovation project enhanced the functionality of the HVAC system by adding air conditioning to the space that previously did not have the capacity. The mechanical system was designed to be highly efficient with HEPA filters to correspond to our current environment.

The collegiate-level athletic center includes all-new bleachers adorned with the school’s logo and contemporary digital signage. Other modernizations included all-new concessions and an outdoor dining area. KSQ and the project team made intentional design decisions in both function and aesthetics to create an innovative athletic space that will support the school for generations.


River West Choice Neighborhoods

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum celebrates River West – the largest affordable housing project in Tulsa History.
We’re thankful for the visionaries, planners, dedicated leaders and generous donors who paved the path to make this project possible. Let’s continue to create strong, vibrant communities together!
Watch the full video here.

Gateway First Bank Breaks Ground

Gateway First Bank breaks ground on their new flagship banking center. Located on Main Street Jenks, the new banking center will offer more than just the traditional bank services including a multi-purpose space where clients and community members can meet. The design incorporates the use of modern materials and glass to create an open and inviting atmosphere for guests.


Byram Hills High School Theater Renovation

The Byram Hills High School Theatre is approximately 8,500 sf and is located entirely within the interior core of the footprint of the school. KSQ Design performed a re-construction project for the purpose of replacing and/or upgrading seating, interior finishes, lighting, etc. Improvements were made to make the space ADA accessible and addressed the acoustical qualities of the theatre. The scope of the work also included the replacement of an existing roof top mechanical unit (in-kind).



River West

Our architectural design team created a fly through for phase one of River West, a multi-family mixed-use neighborhood, to share with all of you. Phase one includes 74 of the 460 units that are being designed, and built on the west bank of the Arkansas River in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The River West neighborhood is scheduled to be a six phase project. You can learn about the Choice Neighborhood’s vision here.

River West - Apartment Interior


Texas Christian University Ranked #3 by the Princeton Review

Texas Christian University (TCU) is ranked #3 on the Princeton Review’s “Best College” Dorms list and was featured on the Today Show! You can watch it here. Great work TCU!


“Thank you for all you have done to design and build beautiful buildings!  We try to match your passion for space with our passion for program to create an incredible experience for students.  Thank you for your commitment to our success!  You make TCU so proud!”   – Kathy



Park(ing) Day Golden Meter Winners

Thank you to the City of Tulsa, the Downtown Coordinating Council, and other community partners for putting on this awesome event! We are looking forward to 2020.


Student Housing Master Plans: Where, When and Why Your Campus Needs One

Student housing has evolved significantly in the last generation, and campuses are more aware than ever of the growing discrepancy between contemporary new facilities and their older, more traditional stock.  As they examine the challenge of facility updates, many housing administrators are daunted by construction expense, schedule, and disruption in bed count.  And while they know, inherently, that more capacity is needed, the point may be difficult to argue to university administrators.  What kind of housing do we need?  Is our current model the right mix?  Would upper-division students really return to campus if we had the capacity? How could we handle bed loss if we must take a hall offline for renovations?

At KSQ, our team has helped many campuses answer these questions with a Housing Master Plan.  Many universities use campus master planning to strategize growth, but these broad-scope documents don’t always include plans specific to housing development.  Fewer still include the steps needed to schedule, phase, and fund housing construction or renovation.

What Is A Housing Master Plan?

A Housing Master Plan is a long-range planning document – typically covering a 10- to 15-year period – that provides a roadmap for programmatic and physical changes to enhance housing, as well as residential and campus life. It typically includes the following kinds of information to guide the University in reinvesting in its housing system over the plan period:

  • Target populations to house, and preferred types of housing (unit types, mix and number) to accommodate those populations.
  • Assessment of existing physical conditions and recommendations for renovations to address deferred maintenance / capital renewal and, as necessary, to modernize and upgrade buildings to make them suitable for the next decade and beyond.
  • Recommendations for new housing to address any current or anticipated deficiencies in inventory.
  • Recommendations for other enhancements to campus housing, and to residential life programming to create a more vibrant and engaging on-campus experience.
  • Financial requirements to implement changes called out in the Housing Master Plan.

A housing planner can also examine the off-campus market to determine availability and pricing of current options and compare those findings with on-campus housing options for best compatibility and most fair and effective pricing.

Why Does My Campus Need One?

If your campus experiences a significant change in enrollment, on-campus residents, housing inventory, or administrative philosophy, it might be time for a housing master plan:

  • Is there a change in enrollment? A larger student body might require more housing.  A drop in enrollment might be influenced by a housing inventory that isn’t competing with peer institutions.
  • Is there a wide range of housing conditions? The contrast between new facilities and older ones might create the perception of “haves” and “have-nots” on campus.  A housing master plan can create a strategy for renovations that provide a rich university experience across a range of student budgets.
  • Are residents satisfied with their housing experience? A housing master plan can reveal a program’s strengths and weaknesses, and provide guidance for improving the overall program.  Further, it can introduce trends in residential life that attract and retain the current generation of students.
  • Is there a change in philosophy from campus leadership? If administrators want to achieve tier-one status within the state, or create a residential campus, a housing master plan can identify best strategies to achieve new residential goals.

How is the Plan Developed?

Developing a successful Housing Master Plan usually involves a multi-step process:

  • Market Research – the team conducts interviews, focus groups, and surveys to gather comprehensive data on current housing conditions. This information is concrete, gathering students’ ages, years in college, academic majors, etc.  It is also abstract, examining what students like and don’t like about their current housing arrangements.  The planning team compares these findings with similar information gathered from peer institutions, as well as the local off-campus housing market.
  • Facilities Assessment – the team reviews existing residence halls and dining facilities to inform recommendations for upgrades. These recommendations range from programmatic needs for social and study spaces, to structural and code-required upgrades necessary for occupancy.
  • Development of a Housing Program – the final document includes an overall goal for the amount, types, and locations of housing needed on campus, in comparison to the current inventory.
  • Financial Modeling – the team examines existing revenue and expense information, along with construction cost estimates, to create different budgeting scenarios for future construction and renovation projects.

A recent exercise at the University of North Texas revealed a vibrant and loyal residential community.  It also uncovered many opportunities to improve student experience through facility upgrades.  And although the campus administrators understood the team’s recommendations, they were concerned with losing capacity during significant renovation projects.  Moreover, administrators were unsure of the best way to fund construction, balancing resources on hand with assuming too much debt.

The planning team developed two interactive documents that proved valuable to campus users.  The first was a phasing schedule, listing bed counts for each hall, before and after construction and recommended renovations.  With this tool, end users can explore different phasing options to determine a logical order for projects.  Bringing a new hall online at the same time another is closed for updates minimizes bed loss.  Similarly, the schedule can be reconfigured to avoid excessive construction in a single area of campus.

The second document is an interactive budgeting tool.  With it, campus users can explore different funding scenarios for projects, to see the financial impacts of, for example, a slightly different interest rate, or an adjustment in room rates.  Users can also adjust debt-to-cash ratios in their hypothetical budgets to determine best scenarios for affordability.

What Else Should I Know?

Effective planning is comprehensive.  A strong planning team will need to meet with representatives from Student Affairs, Facilities, Transportation, Budget, Dining, and Admissions – just to name a few critical departments.  It’s also quite common to begin a discussion with one department and identify three more to provide valuable information.

Effective planning takes time.  It’s not unusual for a comprehensive Housing Master Plan to develop over the course of an academic year, but this process can be impacted profoundly by schedule organization among all the different stakeholders.  Information comes from a range of campus departments, represented by very busy people.  Scheduling these people separately is difficult, and scheduling them all together is very difficult!

At the end of the process, a strong housing master plan will provide guidance for development to take your campus through the next several years – and provide the richest student experience possible.



Creating a home for LGBTQ at Stony Brook University.

Our team recently had the opportunity to present our latest project for Stony Brook University at the annual ACPA conference held in Houston March 11-14. Not only did we showcase the story of the new LGBTQ* Center on the SBU campus, we were joined by Dr. Robert Schoenberg, the recently retired director of the Penn LGBT Center at the University of Pennsylvania, one of the very first centers like this in the nation.

From left: Dr. Robert Schoenberg, U Penn (retired); Armand and Monica; Dallas Bauman, SBU; Tom Hier, Biddison Hier

The presentation also covered the history of LGBTQ Centers on university campuses. An interesting fact is that only six percent of colleges and universities currently have an LGBTQ center on their campus, adding up to approximately 246 such centers in all. We gave attendees some critical factors to consider if they are planning one for their campus:

Keys to Creating an LGBTQ Center on Your Campus:

  1. Consider your campus context: is it more liberal or conservative? Limited or accessible funding?
  2. Can you identify a campus champion? Finding and empowering the right person is key to gaining momentum.
  3. Do you understand the planning process? Talking with architects or other institutions who have launched successful centers will give your team an idea of what to expect.
  4. What are your cultural goals? What culture do you want to create? Stating your mission, vision and values is key to helping guide the process.
  5. What are your programmatic goals? What types of activity do you envision for the space?
  6. Can you enlist outside experts? Hiring a planner and/or architect is often needed to bring your vision to reality.

KSQ’s design team created a concept called “the nest” to guide decisions for the Stony Brook space. A feeling of warmth, acceptance, safety and home were some of the guiding principles.

This “nest” concept board created by the interiors team at KSQ helped to set the tone for the new Center.


At Stony Brook, a former 2,400 square-foot dining space provides a visible presence and a central location for LGBTQ and other groups to connect with peers, mentors and the services and resources available at SBU. A student lounge, individual and group study, social, lecture and meeting spaces as well as offices and gender-neutral restroom facilities are included in the new space that opened in early March 2018.

Our team was honored to be part of the process of creating a new home for the vibrant LGBTQ community at Stony Brook University. We know how much impact a space can have on creating and fostering community–it’s why we do what we do!


Exploring the Back-to-Basics Student Housing Trend

Current student housing trends indicate that more basic, affordable housing is back at the top of demand for value-conscious students.  That’s great news all around, and not simply for the reduction of student debt. Major news outlets like The Atlantic have also conveyed interesting stories on the new trend towards a back-to-basics student housing approach and why it’s catching on from coast to coast.

Academic Focus. Quiet study nooks with white boards and ample charging spots are the new amenities feature.


Construction cost.  During the early 2000’s and recession, campuses enjoyed low interest rates and even lower construction costs.  At the same time, many families discovered that they could purchase devalued and foreclosed homes near campus, for affordable housing and potential returns after their students left college.  Most universities’ construction rush included luxury amenities – such as recreational pools, climbing walls, fitness facilities, and gaming spaces – to attract students back to campus. Today, facility costs per square foot are back on the rise.  Expanding campuses now find that luxe amenities of the last decade simply don’t fit in this year’s construction budget. 

Maintenance cost.  Even after the building is complete, it costs more to heat, cool, light, and clean those amenity spaces, too.  Removing superfluous building area reduces its maintenance budget, not just the initial construction cost.  And, of course, amenity spaces are generally non-revenue-generating, so reducing those spaces preserves more of a building’s revenue stream for covering debt service and other fixed expenses.

Student Experience.  The newest wave of students is more academically focused than their early-2000s counterparts.  Even in off-campus, student-specific apartments, developers notice that lounges remain empty until they replace the pool and foosball tables with printers, data connections, and large tables for groups to work.  One theory postulates that the newest college-goers are among the first offspring of Generation X, the cynical latchkey kids who still see merit in their college days of Punk and Grunge, and who know the challenge of graduating into a recession with college debt.  They don’t mind putting their students in smaller, more cost-effective rooms. From a design point of view, the trend toward smaller student units allows for more square footage in common areas, encouraging students to leave their rooms and socialize in ways other than Snap Chat. Traditional style efficiency is not just affordable – it builds community, social skills, and grit among its residents.

Private Life. Less square footage in both suite and traditional style rooms brings down student rental rates and provides opportunities for developing active common spaces.





The Next Generation of Traditional.   While community style housing enjoys a renaissance, it also has a fresh look.  Bathrooms are smaller, to serve banks of four to six rooms at a time.  New designs and new thinking about bathroom layouts include individual shower spaces, with dressing areas and lockable doors, to protect student privacy.   Even community-style bathrooms are getting a fresh look – disaggregating “public functions” around sink areas (e.g., brushing teeth, combing hair), from the private functions of showering and toileting in enclosed stalls.  This approach facilitates community around daily grooming functions while providing all students with the necessary privacy, addressing interests in gender neutral facilities, etc.  Lounge and study spaces are much more prevalent, with a young, contemporary flair to invite students to socialize.  Some facilities intentionally provide stronger wireless signals in public spaces than in student rooms, specifically to encourage activity there.  “Community Kitchens” have evolved into large, lively gathering areas for groups to convene and cook together.  Finally, corridor space itself is construed to allow for gradual interaction, with small areas for apprehensive or shy students to sit and observe larger group activities before joining in.

Today’s incoming freshman and their parents are more aware of rising college costs than perhaps ever before. Universities are responding with options that allow students of all means to find comfortable housing solutions—with the pared-down housing (both new and renovation) often becoming the rooms in highest demand on campus.


KSQ Tulsa Office Featured in Retrofit Magazine

Our new Tulsa office is featured here in the January 2018 issue of Retrofit Magazine. The article covers the 1930s building’s origins as a former hardware store. Today not only does the former Gates Hardware Building house KSQ Design, but also a hip sports bar and dance club on the street level.


University of Colorado Boulder Village Center | Foodservice Equipment & Supplies Project of the Month

Student housing gives new life to a 100-year-old building.


Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology (OSUIT) is known for world-class academic instruction, a nearly 100% career placement rate and their partnerships with both industry and the community. In an effort to improve its campus community–while also supporting the growth of downtown Okmulgee, OK, OSUIT purchased two connecting buildings on the northeast corner of Grand Avenue and Fifth Street in historic downtown Okmulgee. The buildings were transformed by KSQ Design and Sikes Abernathie Architects (SAA) into 11 loft-style and 26 flat-style apartments offered as an off-campus living option for up to 76 students.

KSQ and SAA’s design features high ceilings on the main floor and 11 loft-style living spaces with two bedrooms upstairs and a bathroom, kitchen and living room downstairs. The first level also offers seven loft-style apartments. The design includes light wells cutting into the building to provide natural light for the units and individual bedrooms, an outdoor patio area, a lobby with nooks, community kitchen and laundry, a lounge and an office and living suite for an on-site manager. The design for the second floor features flat-style apartment homes with living rooms, two bedrooms, a bathroom and one unit that has four bedrooms.

Like most renovations, this one presented unique challenges and opportunities for the design team. These “before” photos give you an idea of the state of the building when our team got ahold of it (click “show thumbnails” to advance through the slideshows, below).

The transformation was celebrated during a ribbon cutting and open house–the community was invited to come check out Okmulgee’s new gem for OSUIT students. Elements of the original building’s character are still in place, but the spaces are fresh and relevant for modern-day student living.

A big kudos to Kim, Adriana, our clients at OSU, partners at SAA and Oakridge Builders for a great team effort!


Rethinking the On-Campus Student Apartment

Apartment-style student housing has been on campuses for decades, but has often occupied a small niche in a school’s inventory.  Often relegated to married students, or graduate students, many on-campus apartments were barely a notch in quality above traditional, freshman-level housing.

Now, as schools expand their inventories to keep more upper-division students on campus, apartments are enjoying a renaissance.  Research indicates that a considerable number of students do enjoy the convenience, safety, and affordability of living on campus.  Moreover, a furnished unit — with utilities included in a nine-month contract — is attractive to a young adult short on funds.

For those students with families, on-campus apartments could be the difference between completing their degrees or dropping out of school.  “I couldn’t stay in college without my apartment here,” declared a single parent recently at Texas Woman’s University.  “There’s no way I could even make rent on a place that’s safe enough for a small child.”  Some campuses notice a dearth of quality, affordable housing in their local off-campus markets, and a practice of exploiting desperate students, especially international students who might arrive in town just days before classes begin.

Even for upper-division undergraduates, apartments are attractive – especially when the units remain affordable, and when the communities retain some of the features and gathering spaces they appreciated in their freshman halls.  UT Dallas’s newest Canyon Creek community provides two and four-bedroom units in a range of price points, and includes space at every level for study and socialization.

Gathering space outside the apartment unit is an important factor in building community.  Common study spaces provide a neutral, safe place for students to meet and interact without bringing casual acquaintances into their dwelling space or entering others’ units. And outdoor areas—from fire pits and gas grills to volleyball courts and hammock hangouts–are key to making the apartments feel like a community. Proximity to the university is often the best amenity of all, which means upperclassmen are more and more willing to stay on campus. Universities who discover the right mix of unit types and amenities at the right price point will have a waiting list on their hands.



The Residential College Model: Student Housing Collides with the Classroom

KSQ Principal Armand Quadrini had the opportunity to present at the 4th Annual Residential College Symposium at Washington University recently–our presentation focused on the idea of transforming vintage or legacy halls into living-learning spaces without major redesign. Needless to say, he enjoyed the opportunity to learn from student affairs and faculty leaders across the nation on how this residential model is impacting their campus.

Dr. Frank Shushok from Virginia Tech presents one of the keynote addresses at the 4th annual Residential College Symposium held this year at Washington University.

Whether simply including more whiteboard-equipped study spaces in an honors hall to actual classrooms and faculty-in-residence apartments in a residential college, KSQ understands that combining academic spaces with living spaces helps many college students engage more in their studies, achieve higher GPAs and remain connected to their university. In fact, a study published in Research in Higher Education showed that 35% of students are less likely to leave after their first year than similar students not enrolled in a learning community.

Converting Legacy Halls to Living-Learning

The idea of living-learning communities or residential colleges need not apply to new construction only. In fact, KSQ has successfully converted aging, 60s-era buildings into vibrant, modern living-learning residence halls to help facilitate current programming and curriculum.

This rarely used basement was transformed as part of a renovation to convert a legacy residence hall into a living-learning community for Baylor University.

Today the basement provides a wealth of multifunctionality, from classroom and study spaces to this active recreational space as well as a fitness room.

Integrating living/learning communities or a residential college model into an existing hall offers a unique opportunity for housing to play an important role in how many students learn today. Discovering areas to add faculty-in-residence apartments, classrooms and study rooms while minimizing bed loss is a creative programming exercise for which an experienced student housing firm can assist.









Texas Christian University Residence Halls by KSQ Rank #3 in Princeton Review

Congratulations to TCU for ranking #3 in the Princeton Review’s Best College Dorms list! We are proud to have worked with them on all of their residence halls since the mid ’90s!